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Siena and Monteriggioni trip

On Friday, October 30th we visited two cities on a one day-trip that was relatively new for FSU International Programs: a small walk along the Francigena route that pilgrims used in the 12th century going from Rome to Florence. We began in a little town called Abbadia a Isola where we started our three-kilometer pilgrimage. The weather, which had been rainy the day before, was beautiful: clear and sunny, giving us a wonderful view of the vineyards and fields that we passed along the way. After the trek we reached the small, hillside town of Monteriggioni and walked along the ancient walls to experience the Sienese panoramic view. We also visited a small museum in which you could try on various pieces of armor and weaponry of the Middle Ages. In the afternoon, our private bus took us into the city of Siena itself where we saw other historic churches and piazzas, as well as a display of contemporary art that consisted of colorful animal figures. We visited the museum Santa Maria della Scala and got to see a bit of the duomo as well before enjoying our 'super-merenda' of breads, meats, cheeses, and pizzas at a local restaurant. Whether it was the hike or all of the wonderful food, for some reason we promptly fell asleep on the bus ride home, making sure to get plenty of rest before our adventures on Halloween night the following evening! -Samantha Gillen

Padua Venice trip

On Thursday and Friday of last week, we traveled to Padua and Venice for our first overnight trip of the semester! Padua is not a city that is visited often by FSU, so this was a particularly unique opportunity. The city itself is a bit like Tallahassee in the sense that it is primarily a university town of 65,000 students. The different departments, such as humanities, science, languages, etc. are spread out through the city. We visited two main sites in Padua: the Scrovegni Chapel and Palazzo Bo. The Scrovegni chapel houses some rare frescoes by Giotto that were quite radical for their time – to enter the chapel we even had to sit in a decompression room for ten minutes so as to not bring humidity into the chapel. Then we visited a part of the University of Padua, Palazzo Bo, and the medical/science department where Galileo was a professor of science and where he gave some of his most famous lectures. We even saw the Anatomical Theater where dissections were made on pigs, and dead bodies stolen from hospitals and cemeteries. The University of Padua also granted a doctoral degree to Elena Cornaro Piscopia, who was the first women in history to have received one. After having stayed the night in Padua, we traveled to Venice the following morning by train. Venice was as beautiful as ever, even if the day was overcast and a little chilly. On our morning tour we saw St. Mark’s square and the St. Mark’s Basilica, including the crown jewels and four bronze horses. We were very fortunate to have art historian Linda Reynolds to tell us about this beautiful, sinking city. Optional activities of the afternoon included a guided tour of both the Accademia Museum of Venetian Renaissance and the Peggy Guggenheim Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, as well as free time to explore Venice independently. It is always a favorite of our students and many choose to go back or to stay extra time. Now we gear up for midterms which consist of papers and exams…. buono studio, ragazzi! -Samantha Gillen

Corri La Vita- Run for life!

On Sunday, ten FSU students, along with hundreds of other American university students and thousands of Florentines, participated in Corri La Vita, the annual breast cancer research walk. We woke up early and met at the Ponte Vecchio to say hello to Sue and take our group picture before we headed to Piazza del Duomo where the beginning of the three-kilometer walk took place. Adults, children, and dogs were all wearing pink, the color of this year’s t-shirts. The weather was perfect for a walk through the city and the three kilometer track took us through the Boboli Gardens. What a wonderful way to get out and see the city and support an important cause! After the walk, Connor, Elia and I went to The Diner for a typical American breakfasts of eggs, bacon, toast, hash browns, and coffee, and then proceeded to two nearby museums, as from 2-6pm entry for those wearing the pink “Corri La Vita” shirt was free. We decided to go to the Salvatore Ferragamo museum, as Ferragamo sponsored the walk this year, as well as Palazzo Strozzi’s Divine Beauty exhibition. Both were very beautiful and had very cool displays! That night in Via Romana, we also hosted a potluck for all of the students who were in town (many were camping in Munich for Oktoberfest) and enjoyed great food, great wine, and great company in the courtyard. Buona domenica a tutti!   -Samantha Gillen, PA Fall 2015

Ravenna Day Trip

Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita… on Friday, September 4th at a rather early hour, FSU students convened in Piazza della Reppublica to take a bus to Ravenna, city of many beautiful basilicas, mosaics, and the burial city of the father of Italian literature, Dante Aligheri. Our first stop was the Basilica of San Vitale – a beautiful space with lots of Byzantine art. The fascinating part was not just casting our gazes upwards towards the altar and the high ceiling, but also to look down at the mosaics that covered the floor. We were fortunate to have art historian and professor Linda Reynolds to tell us more about the mosaics and Byzantine churches! Near the Basilica of San Vitale we were also able to see the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia that is also filled with mosaics and contains three sarcophagi. Sue never fails to find excellent restaurants for lunch but Osteria Passatelli was especially delicious! We enjoyed an assortment of meats and cheeses and pasta with ragù sauce, washed down with a local, red wine and a caffè espresso. After lunch we visited two more basilicas with the same name – Sant’Appollinare – beginning with the older one in the city center and the newer one (Sant’Appollinare Nuovo) in Classe, out in the countryside of Ravenna. Both were stunning! My favorite part of the day was seeing Dante’s tomb, since I enjoy twelfth-century Italian literature. It is kind of sad that Dante was buried in Ravenna because he was exiled there for political reasons and would have much rather spent his afterlife in his beloved Florence. At the end of the day, we were tired but happy returning to the city that we now know pretty well and have quickly grown to love… a riveder le stelle.ravenna2 ravenna4 - Samantha Gillen, Program Assistant

FSU Trip to Venice: La Serenissima

What a lovely weekend we’ve had in Venice, the destination of our summer-2 overnight trip! We arrived in the late morning via train and grabbed a quick lunch before Professor Nero took us on a small walking tour of St. Mark’s square and St. Mark’s Basilica, the Bridge of Sighs and the St. Zaccaria church.  St. Mark’s Basilica was breathtaking – one of the most beautiful churches that I have ever seen, right up there with St. Peter’s in Rome – and the upper floor with the four famous bronze horses and the panoramic view of the square is not to be missed. Inside the basilica is the Pala d’Oro, a Byzantian altar screen of gold that features over two thousand precious jewels that were acquired during the fourth Crusade. Incredible! Unfortunately, no photos are allowed so we must keep this dazzling image fixed only in memory. After the tour we had time on our own to explore the city and take pictures. Our group dinner that evening was, of course, delicious, and afterwards many students were eager to take an evening gondola ride through the Grand Canal. The second morning of our trip, we saw three of Venice’s one-hundred-and-fourteen islands, Murano, where we witnessed a demonstration of the famous Murano glass being made. Many students bought handmade souvenirs for friends and family members, and what better place to buy them than in the Glass Factory gift shop itself. You can’t get any more authentic than that! We also visited Burano, with its brightly colored houses, and Torcello, which boasts both the Santa Maria Assunta cathedral and the church of St. Fosca. It was a great day to be on the shuttle boat and we were able to see lots of the surrounding areas of Venice.  In the afternoon we visited the Peggy Guggenheim Museum of Modern and Contemporary art, which was a very interesting break from the bombardment of Florentine Renaissance art.  We saw many examples of Cubism, Surrealism, and Futurism, to name a few of the popular modernist and contemporary styles. Many students were reluctant to leave Venice and its beautiful collection of islands when it came time to hop on our train home, but happy to return to our beloved Florence… just in time for midterms!   -article written by Samantha Gillen, Program Assistant for Summer-Fall 2015